How to shop safe, smart this holiday season

With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday all on the horizon, it’s officially holiday shopping season.

The National Retail Federation’s Senior Director of Industry and Consumer Insights said shopping early could save you major stress and it is safer.

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For those who plan to shop online, it is important to buy in advance to ensure packages ship and arrive on time.

“While people have embraced online in the past, we’re expecting that to be even more of a focus. Retailers are offering the same deals online and in store in many cases so people can shop as safely as possible,” said Cullen.

(Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

FOX 5 met Amanda Buras at the Downtown Holiday Market. She started taking advantage of the early discounts in October.

“Well, I’ve had a lot of fun like buying locally this year because I know so many small businesses are hurting right now and so its been really fun to be more thoughtful with my purchases this year.”

For vendors like Shea Yeleen at the Downtown Holiday Market, this year has been a struggle.

“I know personally Shea Yeleen, she had to close one shop because it was really, really hard so this holiday market is really boosting the sales and yeah, COVID just messed up everything for everybody,” said Nicole Lewis, Sales Rep for Shea Yeleen.

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That is why some said they don’t want to contribute to the problem on Black Friday.

“I just don’t want to be around people, don’t want to be in the rush of it,” said Buras. “It’s nice being away from people right now,” said Buras.

While many are eager for a sense of normalcy, others said being in a shopping crowd is not worth the risk.

“I don’t really participate in that mass buying and also, it’s just not really a great time considering the pandemic,” said Jordan Isaacson, Shopper.

The National Retail Federation expects sales to be even greater this year compared to last year both online and in-person.

“We know this is an emotional time of year. It’s a time when a lot of people doing shopping as a social activity. It is a tradition for many families. We do encourage people to look at what retailers are saying or doing,” said Cullen.

For people who plan to go to the mall or visit stores, be prepared for restrictions to be in place and to follow safety protocols for each individual store.

Below are the COVID-19 guidelines this holiday season at Simon’s. This includes Apple Blossom Mall in Winchester, VA; Potomac Mills in Woodbridge, VA; Fashion Centre at Pentagon City in Arlington, VA; Leesburg Premium Outlets in Leesburg, VA; St. Charles Towne Center in Waldorf, MD; Clarksburg Premium Outlets in Clarksburg, MD; Arundel Mills in Hanover, MD; Arundel Mills Marketplace in Hanover, MD.

· Simon is not accommodating any on-site media at this time, including interviews and photographers. 

· All Simon malls are following CDC guidelines, as well as direction from the state and local governments. 

· For any information pertaining to Santa, you can find those details here and on Cherry Hill Programs’ website – Cherry Hill Programs run the Santa Photo Experience at each of the Simon properties and they have all of the updated safety protocols and any additional information you may need available on the website. 

· You can find the latest details pertaining to Black Friday in the press release here. Early holiday savings have begun and shoppers can visit the center in-person, select curbside pickup or pick-up in store. 

· Please visit for additional details, holiday hours and deals.